This portion of the website is dedicated to providing important answers to questions that you may have had outside of the dental office. Browse through and click on the specific topics that you may find interesting and learn more about your dental health. We are here to help, so if you have any questions, please call us at 905-278-7470.
Bruxism (Tooth Grinding)
Bruxism is the technical term for grinding and clenching that wears down teeth and may cause facial pain. People who grind and clench, called bruxers, unintentionally bite down too hard at inappropriate times, such as in their sleep. People usually aren’t diagnosed with bruxism until it is too late because they don’t realize they have the habit. About one in three people suffer from bruxism, which can easily be treated by a dentist.
When someone has bruxism, the tips of their teeth appear flat. Teeth are worn down so much that the enamel has rubbed off, exposing the inside of the tooth, which is called dentin. When exposed, dentin may cause the tooth to become sensitive. Bruxers may also experience pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) –the jaw- that may manifest itself as popping and clicking. Tongue indentations are another sign of clenching.
Stress and certain personality types are at the root of bruxism. Anger, pain and frustration can trigger bruxing. People who are aggressive, competitive and hurried also may be at a greater risk for bruxism.
During a regular dental visit, the dentist automatically checks for physical signs of bruxism. Grinding due to stress can only be cured by removing the stress trigger. If grinding continues, a nightguard may be prescribed to prevent ultimate damage to the teeth.
Treatment for popping and clicking jaw bone is only observed and initiated only when pain is associated with these indications.
Severe gum disease is an infection and inflammation of the gums and surrounding tissues also known as periodontal disease. It is the major cause of adult tooth loss. The causes of this chronic infection are numerous. Bacterial plaque is a sticky, colourless film that forms on the teeth. It eventually hardens into a rough substance called tartar. Toxins released by these bacteria begin to irritate the gums and eventually the bacteria start to breakdown the fibres that adhere the gums to the teeth and thus creating a periodontal pocket. The progression of this disease causes the bacteria to go deeper into the gums and moves down to the bone destroying them. If left untreated, the tooth becomes loose and may fall out or require extraction.
Genetics and diet are also key factors of this disease. Diets deficient in essential nutrients will decrease the body’s ability to combat infections. Smoking is also a culprit for gum irritation. Individuals with diseases affecting the body’s immune system, such as AIDS and leukemia, as well as patients with diabetes that is uncontrolled have difficulties warding off infection and thus gum disease is more difficult to control.
Red, swollen gums that bleed when brushing and flossing, gums that pull away from teeth, bad breath, changes in the way the teeth come together are all signs of gum disease. It is advisable to see your dentist since there may not be any early symptoms and the disease may spread to the point where the tooth cannot be saved. Therefore it is recommended to get frequent dental exams.
Early intervention involves scaling and root planing-removing plaque and calculus around the tooth and below the gum line where the root surfaces are cleaned. More serious cases involve minor surgery, which requires cutting the gum tissue, and removing the hardened plaque build-up and remodelling the surrounding bone.
Your dentist can design a program of home oral care to meet your needs by performing a periodontal exam. Through brushing, flossing and professional cleanings, one can control the level of plaque that is the culprit to this disease.
Your dentist may decide to refer the patient to a specialist if the gum disease requires surgical intervention. Both the dentist and the periodontist will work together to formulate a treatment that is best suited to your needs.
Prevention is a vital component of everyone’s hygiene regimen. Patients should visit their dentist regularly, sometimes as frequently as 3-4 months, for a preventive checkup for a comprehensive diagnosis. Our dentists are trained to catch small problems before they become major concerns. In between visits, brush at least twice a day and floss daily.
Manual soft bristle brushes are the least expensive and most dependable brushes around. Many patients can benefit from an electric toothbrush for better manual dexterity. Small, narrow brushes called proxy brushes are best to cleanse the recesses in the teeth and should be used with care. Rubber tips and wooden toothpicks are usually recommended by your dentist, so talk to your dentist about which brushes are best for your individual needs.
Baby Bottle Decay
Baby bottle decay, also known as Nursing bottle decay, is caused by the prolonged use of a baby bottle during the day or at night containing human milk, cow’s milk, formula, fruit juice or any other sweetened liquids. These liquids contain sugar that causes cavities. Cavities can first appear along the gum line behind the upper front teeth. It may spread to the front teeth and usually affects all of the front teeth.
To protect your child, do not let them take a bottle that contains milk or juices to bed with them. Instead, give them plain water at sleep or nap time. It is recommended that children be taken off the bottle by 12 months of age and be taught to drink from a cup. If you notice brown spots on your child’s teeth, see your dentist for treatment. Read on about your child’s dental health in the section Oral Health for Children.
Oral Health for Children
It is recommended to see a dentist six months after your child’s first teeth come out. The first dental visit/orientation is an oral assessment for patients between the age of 1 and 3. The assessment includes family dental history, dietary/feeding practices, oral habits, oral hygiene, fluoride exposure, providing guidance for parents/guardians on how to care for their child’s teeth.
Soon after birth, you should begin to clean their mouth. Wipe all around your baby’s gums with a soft cloth. Upon eruption of the first tooth, begin brushing with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of non-fluoridated toothpaste. After three years of age, your child can brush with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
Your child should be receiving fluoride from the community water supply in an ample amount. Talk to your dentist if there are any concerns with fluoride intake and see if your child is in fact receiving the right amount. Lead by example and allow your child to watch you brush your teeth, this will reinforce the importance of good oral hygiene.
To avoid baby bottle tooth decay and misalignment due to sucking, try to get your child off of the bottle by one year of age and monitor sucking of pacifiers, fingers and thumbs. Your child should not have a bottle of milk or other sweetened liquids at sleep time.
There are many teeth whitening systems available, however, all of them differ in terms of their safety and effectiveness. The professional whitening system provided by your dentist involves custom-fit trays and whitening gel that is dispensed inside the tray. They can be worn during the day or overnight, whatever works best for you.
The active ingredient in most of these professional whitening systems provided by your dentist is carbamide peroxide. This is a “buffered” form of hydrogen peroxide meaning it is more stable and has a longer shelf life, and has been used by dentists for over 50 years as an oral antiseptic.
As saliva comes into contact with the carbamide peroxide gel, it breaks down the gel-forming water and oxygen. The theory is that the oxygen breaks down the stain molecules on and within your teeth. (footnote: Bleaching with 10%Carbamide Peroxide; an 18-month study” Bruce W. Small, AGD Impact, March-Apr.1995) When you brush your teeth and rinse out your mouth afterwards, these broken molecules are washed away.
Yes, many studies have proven that it is a safe product. Carbamide peroxide has been used by dentists as an oral antiseptic, for cavity prevention, and a tooth whitener and there are 50 years of studies to back up its safety (The colour atlas of tooth whitening, Dr. G. Mclaughlin and Dr.G. Freedman,1991 ). Also, people have been using hydrogen peroxide, in the dentist’s chair, for whitening since the 1960s.
Electron microscope examinations on extracted teeth have shown that there is no change to the structure of the tooth as a result of whitening with carbamide peroxide including no change to any composites, crowns, etc. Please speak to your dentist about this and any other concerns that you may have about treatment.
For most patients, treatment takes two weeks. However, the professional whitening system will only whiten your natural teeth. Composite fillings, bridges, crowns, veneers etc. will not become whiter; they will remain the same shade. Therefore, tooth whitening should be done prior to any placement of tooth-coloured restorations to achieve that smile you’ve always wanted!
The store-bought products that are for tooth whitening purposes should be used with caution. The method of tooth whitening in these products is such that they are not custom fit and can cause gingival irritation, and are less effective. Some patients may experience tooth sensitivity during treatment. For most people, this is mild and will disappear as the treatment progresses. If the sensitivity is moderate to severe, a fluoride gel is recommended to reduce the level of sensitivity. Ask your dentist about this.
Common Dental Problems
There is a disk that separates the jaw bone from the base of the skull The primary cause of the “popping” occurs when you open your mouth too wide and the jaw bone “pops” off the disk or pad. Treatment is not required unless pain is associated with the pop or the jaw locks.
Tooth decay is caused by plaque in your mouth reacting with sugary and starchy deposits from food. This reaction produces acid, which damages the enamel over time and weakens the tooth.
Saliva production decreases with age. Various medications can also affect saliva production. In order to slow the process, one must exercise the gland. Chewing sugarless gum, chewing your food thoroughly, or occasionally having a sugar-free piece of candy can accomplish this. Artificial saliva can also be prescribed if necessary.
Information for Seniors
Teeth can be sensitive to hot, cold, sweets and chewing. Sensitivities can appear suddenly or gradually. They generally indicate underlying problems- such as root decay.
A side effect of many medications and also an indication of age. Dryness may aggravate the dental problem, so mention it to us. Chewing sugarless gum, chewing your food thoroughly or having sugar-free candy in moderation may reduce the process. Ask your dentist about artificial saliva.
White or red patches, swelling or sores in mouth or lips-
these may stem from nutritional deficiencies, they may indicate serious problems, or they may be completely harmless. It takes a professional to tell. Meanwhile, never place aspirin on a mouth sore, since it may irritate the tissue.
Several causes are possible. It may be the dentures that don’t fit or that stay in your mouth overnight. It may be a nutritional deficiency. Another possibility is a temporary syndrome common in women called “burning mouth syndrome”.
This usually indicates advanced gum disease. See the dentist if this should be the case.
Dentures occasionally need relining or refitting to accommodate changes in the mouth. If you delay this, you risk tissue damage. Have your dentures checked regularly.
A dental sealant is a thin plastic film painted on the chewing surfaces of molars and premolars. They have been shown to prevent cavities. As long as the sealant remains intact, small food particles and bacteria that cause cavities cannot penetrate through or around a sealant.
The surface of the tooth is cleaned and rinsed off. An etching solution or gel is applied to the enamel surface of the tooth, including pits and grooves. After 15 seconds, the solution is thoroughly rinsed away with water. After the site is dried, the sealant material is applied and allowed to harden by using a special curing light.
Sealants should last five years but can last as long as 10 years. However, sealants should not be considered permanent. Regular dental check-ups are necessary to monitor the sealants’ bond to the tooth. If a sealant becomes worn, more sealant material can be applied on top of it.
Children receive the greatest benefit from sealants because they have newly erupted, permanent teeth. The teeth that benefit the most from sealants are permanent molars and premolars. Between the ages of five and seven, children get four permanent molars and between ages of 12 and 14, they get four more permanent molars and sometimes eight permanent premolars. The chewing surfaces of a child’s teeth are most susceptible to cavities and the least benefited by fluoride. Most cavities occur in the narrow pits and grooves of a child’s newly, erupted teeth because food particles and bacteria cannot be cleaned out. Sealants can prevent these cavities!
No, fluoride is necessary to prevent decay as well. Fluoride works best on the smooth surfaces of teeth. The chewing surfaces on the back teeth have tiny grooves where decay often begins. Sealants keep bacteria out of the grooves and together, sealants and fluoride act to prevent tooth decay.
A complete preventive dental program includes the use of sealants, fluoride, plaque removal, careful food choices, and regular dental care.
Sealants help maintain sound, intact teeth. Decay destroys the structure of the tooth. Each time a tooth is filled or a filling is replaced, additional tooth structure is lost. Appropriate use of sealants can save money, time and discomfort associated with dental treatment procedures.
Veneers are very thin porcelain shells that are custom-made and permanently bonded to the front surface of each involved tooth. Veneers are strong and natural-looking that many dentists consider the techniques “cloned enamel”. This durability and natural beauty have caused a revolution in cosmetic dentistry.
Porcelain veneers are often used to change the colour of dark and stained teeth. Veneers can also close gaps and spaces, brighten one tooth or entire smile, block out stains and even correct uneven, chipped or worn teeth. Crowded and rotated teeth can also be perfected. In many cases, certain undersized teeth can be made larger and lengthened as well.
Clinical experience has shown that veneers will look beautiful and natural for years, and in many ways, veneers are stronger than tooth enamel. Porcelain is hard, non-porous and will not stain or wear with normal tooth brushing. Patients with veneers do not have to change their normal eating habits.
There will be a period of adjustments for approximately a week or two after the veneers are placed as you get used to your new teeth. Maintenance involves brushing and flossing daily.
Veneers look more natural than any other kind of restoration. Many dentists mistake a veneered tooth for a natural tooth. The porcelain reflects light from within, as does natural enamel and the colour and shape are designed by esthetics experts to look exactly like a natural tooth.
It usually takes two appointments to veneer teeth. Adjustments may be made to the involved teeth during the first appointment. After an impression is taken, your custom-made veneers can be made to the new colour and shape desired. The veneers are then permanently bonded to your teeth during the second appointment.
Feel free to ask questions and request to see a porcelain veneer sample on your next visit.
Crowns and Bridges
A crown is a full coverage cap that covers a tooth to strengthen or improve the appearance of the tooth. The reasons for placing a crown on a tooth are to support a large filling when there isn’t enough tooth structure, protect a weak tooth from fracturing, cover a dental implant and also cover badly shaped or discoloured teeth. The goal is to create a crown that looks like a natural tooth.
Crowns are made from a number of materials including gold alloys or nonprecious alloys, porcelain or ceramic, acrylic or composite resin. Combinations of these materials may also be used. Commonly used is porcelain attached to a metal shell for strength and esthetics. All ceramic or porcelain made crowns are more esthetically pleasing however may lack in strength.
Usually, at least two visits are necessary. The dentist will prepare the tooth by removing the outer portion of the tooth to accommodate the thickness of the crown. An impression is made to provide an exact model of the prepared tooth and this is sent to the laboratory for fabrication of the crown. A temporary “acrylic” crown is placed in the interim while the permanent crown is made.
When the permanent crown is ready, your dentist will put it in place and make the necessary adjustments. When both you and your dentist are satisfied with the crown, it can be permanently cemented in place.
A bridge spans over one or more natural missing teeth, thereby bridging the gap between two teeth. Bridges are fixed prostheses whereby they cannot be taken out of the mouth like removable partial dentures. In some cases when the space is too large, your dentist may recommend a removable partial denture or an implant-a titanium metal post that is surgically embedded into the bone and capped with a crown as an abutment.